Newly-qualified teachers believe that undergraduate education courses are leaving them poorly prepared to cope with special needs pupils in mainstream schools, writes David Budge. A survey of new teachers found that those with PGCEs were generally complimentary about the special needs training they had received. But BEd-holders were all critical.
One teacher said that her SEN training consisted of only one lecture on the Code of Practice and statementing. Others complained that their college had been unable to arrange a placement in a special school.
The research was carried out by education consultant Howard Brayton and Denise Dew-Hughes, a doctoral researcher at Oxford Brookes University. They acknowledge that their sample was small - they questioned 26 PGCE-holders and 24 with BEds - but they believe that the teachers' experience may be representative as they work in 41 schools from the South Coast to the Scottish Border.
"Teaching practice had shown students to be very under-trained for the diversity and dimension of SEN in schools," Brayton and Dew-Hughes say. "They were often not prepared for the low levels of basic skills teaching which they were called on to teach. Some said that they had not been given any indication that they would need to know primary-level strategies for senior pupils. "
The teachers questioned by Brayton and Dew-Hughes were all in their probationary year and many had identical needs. "What they wanted most of all was better induction from their schools and liaison with senior colleagues, specialist advisers and the SEN co-ordinator," the researchers say.